Training For A 5k Race On A Treadmill (For Beginners)

Woman training on a treadmill for a 5k


By Simon Gould

A 5k race is often the first race a beginner will join. It’s the smallest distance being only 3.1 miles and there are many couch to 5k training plans out there. The world record for men is 12 minutes 37.35 seconds and for women it is 14 minutes 11.15 seconds. Both of those are extremely fast even for the best of hobby runners. Don’t expect to get near those times. Training on a treadmill means that bad weather can not let you down.

Your time will depend on a number of factors but using this training plan we intend to give you a respectable one for your fitness level. This plan is designed for runners who can run 1 mile. It doesn’t matter at what time you can run the mile just that you have a beginning level of fitness already. If you are totally new to running we have our own couch to 5k plan which will help you.

The 5k treadmill plan

The first thing you will notice are rest days. Rest is important for any running plan as it helps you recover. For this reason we put a rest day after the long run. You will see “CT” written in a day, this means it’s a cross training day (elliptical, bike or swim). This will be easier than running but will give you a further fitness boost. For the long run on a Sunday you’re given the amount of minutes to run.

Week 1 to 4

Tue1 mile1 mile1 mile1.5 miles
Thu1 mile1 mile1.25 miles1.5 miles
Sun15 min20 min25 min30 min

Week 5 to 8

Tue2 miles2.25 miles2.5 miles3 miles
Thu2 miles2.25 miles2.5 miles2 miles
Sun35 min40 min45 min5k Race!

As you can see we have 2 days of rest for you a week. You have cross training days in between your run days. You will be running for more than the race distance for a few of the long runs on Sunday. These are to get you running quicker when you go to race at a short distance. For some Wednesday runs, run at race pace or faster so you can go for a good time on race day.

For your Tuesday run, try to run outside so your body can get used to running on the same surface as your race. The 8 weeks plan is quite a long preparation for a 5k race so if you feel you can skip a week then do so. That’s it, if this is your first race then take in the atmosphere of the run and enjoy yourself. You won’t be the quickest but hopefully you won’t be last. Remember your time and see if you can beat it next time.

What speed do I run at?

This depends on a lot of factors like your age, weight and fitness level. A young slim person can go faster than someone who is older and overweight. Jogging is between 4 and 6 mph. The treadmill is so useful because you can select the exact speed. If you run at 5 mph, you’ll do 5k in 37 minutes. This way, by running for 45 minutes in your training, it will make the 5k a lot easier.

I recommend going at a speed where you can successfully run the whole 5k without stopping to walk. This is what the training schedule is all about. Remember, when you run your race outside, it will feel harder than running on a treadmill. You won’t feel the give of the cushioned deck. So don’t set out too fast, even if everyone else is. Go at your own pace.

Preparing for the 5k race day

The most important piece of advice is don’t change your running shoes. Keep the same gear on as you’ve been training with. It fits you well and you’ve got used to it. New clothing can cause chafing and blisters and so can new running shoes. Hopefully you’ve done some of your training outdoors as recommended. This way the different surface won’t be such a shock to your body.

Bear in mind, the pace and time you do on a treadmill may not be the same you do outside. Your excitement may make you faster. Look at the weather forecast for the race day and wear appropriate clothing for the temperature and conditions. Eat normally the day before and 2 or more hours before the race. Stay hydrated and make sure you can get home afterward.


If this is your first race, it will be a memorable experience. Make sure you enjoy it and remember your time, it’s your new personal best and you may want to beat it in future. Your treadmill will have perfectly prepared you for the race. My advice is keep running regularly. In the future you may want to try another 5k or a longer distance. Either way, you will have built up a very good level of fitness.

Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked.

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